Voorlichtingskunde en massacommunicatie : het werkplan van de massamediale voorlichting

C.M.J. van Woerkum

    Research output: Thesisinternal PhD, WU


    This book starts with a definition of extension education in which three elements are brought together: the act of helping, the transfer of information, and the purpose of the activity which is to influence the client's behaviour in a before-stated direction. Extension officers are not appointed to pursue personal goals, but to realise certain policy-goals. They can, however, only influence by helping. In our definition, the helping behaviour consists of or anticipates transfer of information.

    In the same first chapter we give a rough picture of the science of extension education and of its development. Until now its development can be described chronologically as 'thinking in ever widening circles around the client' . The emphasis shifted from the client (adoption- and diffusion studies) to the interaction between client and extension officer (methods of extension work). Subsequently to the extension officer and his organization (e.g. studies 'of policy development, leadership) and at last to extension as an instrument of policy (studies of the relation with other instruments). The last theme is only touched but will be prominent in the future.

    Extension is one field in the present study, mass communications the other. In chapter 2 we discuss the nature of mass communication and the function of the media in an extension program. what can the extension officer learn from the science of mass communication? There are not many proved generalisations on which he can trust. The theory, however, can deliver him models and explanations that enlarge his understanding of the processes of mass communication and how they affect a situation. The possibilities should always be analysed in the situation itself.

    Chapter 3 describes the working plan and the presuppositions the plan. The working plan provides the structure for the main part of the book. It offers us the opportunity to relate theoretical and research findings of several disciplines with concrete decisions and activities of the extension officer in successive phases of the plan. Design and elaboration are receiver-oriented, based on principles of planning (in balance with the demands ,of creativity) and on the uniqueness of each situation. The working plan requires a special kind of research, not the sophisticated academic but a quicker and easier type, with an 'intermediate' or 'appropriate' methodology that can be used by extension officers themselves.

    The working plan is situated at the level of an extension action, e.g. the production of a film or a leaflet. It presupposes goals, stated at a higher level. Chapter 4 analyses the questions that have to be answered beforehand. we criticize the 'communication specialist', the specialist in communication methods, who handles just communication problems, no matter the goals or consequences. A personal choice cannot be avoided. The goal-setting cannot be based upon the knowledge at-hand, nor upon the stated needs of the public only, for the priority of these needs are also a response to the extension offer in the past. The working environment has a profound influence on the outlook of the sender in mass communication, be it his superiors, his colleagues, his sources of information, or - fortunately his clients (but often - unfortunately - only a small non-representative sample of them).

    In chapter 5 we discuss and compare three models for the first phase of the working plan, the preparation phase. one model is preferred and elaborated. It is based on a sharp distinction between knowing and choosing. The specification of goals and means, from general to precise, has to go hand in hand with a more and more reliable and detailed analysis of the situation.

    In all purposive communication, the analysis of the receiver is of utmost importance. We stress three receiver predispositions: the need for information, previous knowledge and the attitude towards the sender and the message. How an extension worker can deal with these three predispositions is the subject of chapter 6. First, he has to know them. Second, he has to know what to do, given certain outcomes, such as a low level of interest, little previous knowledge and an unfavorable attitude towards the sender or his subject. And, he has to know how to collect the information about the predispositions ('appropriate methodology').

    Chapter 7 contains the principles and theory that can help the extension officer to design and produce his message properly. The main theme is the use of clear and comprehensible language. We discuss the advantages and disadvantages of readability formulas, compared with alternatives such as the tips to be found in textbooks on writing, pre-testing and the method developed by Langer. Espe cially in this phase creativity is very important and has to be safeguarded against the demands of planning. we propose a model in which both can be combined without any loss of function. Also, we make a meaningful distinction between creativity-in-the-action, i.e. while writing, and creativity separated from the action itself. Action-creativity, as we call it, has a special place in the process as a whole and cannot be replaced by creativity detached from the real communication act, writing, talking, etc.

    Chapter 8 is devoted to pre-testing and evaluation. Pretesting is one of the most promising activities an extension worker can un dertake, but its value depends highly on a careful selection of method and a conscientious execution. Evaluation could be the task of a practitioner, as well as pre-testing. Usually, however, there is more time and money for a 'professional' approach, including samples that meet the criteria of representativeness, and allow sta tistical elaboration. Evaluation should be the starting point for a new activity, or an inducement to stop. Anyhow. the relation between evaluation and communication policy has to be stressed. In social terms, the relation between the researcher and the extension offi cers is of the utmost importance.

    Original languageDutch
    QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
    Awarding Institution
    • van den Ban, A.W., Promotor
    • Röling, N.G., Promotor
    Award date7 Dec 1982
    Place of PublicationWageningen
    Publication statusPublished - 1982


    • information services
    • extension
    • mass media
    • diffusion of information
    • science

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